Teenagers drink just over 234 cans of soft drink a year - or one bathtub full, a charity has warned.
New figures from Cancer Research UK suggest those aged between four and 10 are having almost half as much. And even children under the age of three are consuming high levels of sugary drinks - equivalent to almost one third of a bath, the report shows.
‘Eleven to 18-year-olds eat and drink three times the recommended limit, with sugary drinks being their main source of added sugar.’
AdvertisementSoft drinks other than fruit juice are one of the largest sources of sugar for adults, and the largest single source of sugar for children aged 11 to 18 years.
Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, said, "We urgently need to stop this happening and the good news is that the Government's sugar tax will play a crucial role in helping to curb this behavior. The ripple effect of a small tax on sugary drinks is enormous, and it will give soft drinks companies a clear incentive to reduce the amount of sugar in drinks."
Drinks with 5g of sugar per 100ml will face a lower rate of tax , while those with more than 8g per 100ml will face a higher rate. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates the levy could add 18p to 24p to the price of a liter of fizzy drink if the full cost is passed on to the consumer.
Pure fruit juices will be exempt as they do not carry added sugar, while drinks with a high milk content will also be exempt due to their calcium content.
"But the Government can do more to give the next generation a better chance, by closing the loophole on junk food advertising on TV before the 9pm watershed. The UK has an epidemic on its hands, and needs to act now."
Cancer Research UK estimates that a 20p-per-litre sugar tax could prevent 3.7 million cases of obesity over the next decade. It follows international research which shows British children are among the least active in the world - and fitness levels are plummeting.
Experts said the results were alarming, showing that movement was being "stripped out" of modern lifestyles, with children weaned on screen-time and starved of outdoor activity.